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The World is a Sausage-Fest

Well, the world of business is, apparently.

Let me back up: I work for a small business consultancy firm, and our bread-and-butter essentially consists of designing/running training courses for other companies that feel like they need their employees to "work better" (however they want to quantify that). As a result, most of our contracts come from companies who hear about what we do and decide to hire us, and (usually) the bigger the company, the better, as they tend to have more money to throw at these sorts of workshops. My job, as (literally) the most insignificant person in the office is to build and maintain a list of contacts at the largest companies in the UK - people like Shell, British Airways, and Tesco - and the higher-up the person I can get info for, the better it is for us, as they are in the positions to make decisions regarding hiring us and so forth.

Anyway, I was working my way through my list today (the top 500 UK companies by market capitalisation), and the first thing I do is go to the corporate website and look for their Executive Management list and Board of Directors profiles (so people like CEOs and Managing Directors), and it dawned on me that of the first 12 companies I looked at today, I saw only 2 women, both Human Resources Directors, out of about 60-70 people. No executive positions, no leadership roles, nothing for women, even when there were male CFOs and Marketing Directors in their early-30s. Almost every company had one woman as a non-executive director (which basically means they were appointed straight to that role, and aren't full employees of the company whose board they sit on) and a glib little passage at the bottom about how they are "dedicated to representing diversity in corporate governance" but "ultimately appointments are made on merit as the foremost factor" (which made me want to barf/smash my computer). The realisation really ruined my day - not that I didn't know all of this before, but seeing it represented in real life time after time for an 8 hour work day is really soul-crushing.

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Is it that there are no women who can lead a company as well as these men? Of-fucking-course not! Are women just "not interested" in those positions, as some people claim? Fuck no! Yet, women comprise only 4.2% of Fortune 500 CEOs, even though the gender ratio of corporate executives has absolutely no effect on shareholder returns or company profits. Every time I come across a woman in a top position, I do a little mental fistpump and say "you go gurl!" under my breath, but I wish there was something a little more effective I could do to promote women in business settings. I'm just a lowly office assistant, so I'm powerless (for now), but I know that in the future any time I can make a concrete difference I will. It's just such a boys-club out there, and it's really depressing.

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